PJ Reptilehouse’s photographs explore the spectra of light and dark, figurative and abstract, simple and complex. Capturing the human form with constantly evolving custom strobe lights, he creates unique kaleidoscopic images.
Born in Ontario, Canada, in 1963, PJ explored music, electronics, and photography even as a child. This interest led to a BA in music from the University of Guelph, and in 1989 he moved to Oakland, California, to earn an MFA in electronic music from Mills College.
Around the year 2000, a breakthrough in LED technology made LEDs a practical light source. After building an LED-based strobe light for another purpose, PJ started emulating the classic chronophotography of Muybridge and Marey and the strobe photography of Harold Edgerton. But that was just a starting point for the evolution of a technique. By building his own strobe lights and synchronizing them with motion-controlled camera platforms—a device he calls the Strobo-Dingus—PJ composed complex and singular images using the human form.
Movement is crucial in his artwork. The camera moves and, often, the model does, too, making coordinated gestures that can be subtle or extreme. The images are captured inside the camera with long exposures, making each one unique. The images are not assembled with photo-editing software. Despite the control that custom lights and motorized camera mounts give, serendipity always plays a factor and this helps keep PJ inspired.
An ongoing relationship with San Francisco’s Exploratorium science museum also sparks PJ’s creativity, enables his work, and provides opportunities for exhibitions. Additionally, his work has been featured in various photography magazines, books, and photography contests.